Busch Earns Fifth-Place Starting Spot Sunday at Michigan

June 12, 2009

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 12, 2009) - Miller Lite Dodge driver Kurt Busch will start fifth in Sunday's LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway after clocking in with an official qualifying lap of 38.308 seconds (187.950 mph) in today's time trial session.

"It felt like a really fast and smooth lap and I honestly thought it'd be faster," Busch said, after hitting the track 15th in the qualifying order and completing his qualifying effort. "I must have left something out there on the table. Maybe I was just too kind to it and didn't charge the corners like I needed to."

Most insiders agreed in their thinking that the track would cool off as the session progressed and it would be a distinct advantage to qualify late in the session. That certainly was not the case Friday afternoon in the session that began at 3:10 p.m. EDT.

Brian Vickers, who was 12th out, turned in a lap of 38.073 seconds (189.110 mph) to claim the pole. Kyle Busch, out eighth in the order (and with a lap of 38.189 seconds/188.536 mph) took the second starting spot, with Jimmie Johnson (23rd out, with a 38.237 second/188.299 mph lap) grabbing third and David Reutimann (out 25th and turning in a lap of 38.270 seconds/188.137 mph) claiming the fourth starting position. Kurt Busch, A.J. Allmendinger, Juan Montoya, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and John Andretti rounded out the top-10 qualifiers.

"I don't know what happened with the track here this afternoon, but it was really weird," Busch said, after watching the remainder of qualifying from inside his team hauler. "We'd run a 19 (38.192-second/188.521 mph lap) in practice and that was third-fastest. When we got out there and ran a 30 (the 38.308-second/187.950 mph lap) on our lap, I really thought we were doomed. I figured we'd be lucky if it stood up for a top-15 spot. The track must not have cooled off and gotten faster like everyone thought it would."

Busch's Penske Racing teammates' fates here today certainly back up his assumption. David Stremme was sixth-fastest in practice (38.353/187.730) and he wound up 26th (going out 33rd and turning in a lap of 38.651/186.282), while Sam Hornish Jr. was 11th on the practice speed chart (38.634/186.364) and wound up 33rd (out 36th in the order and clocking in with a lap of 38.754/185.787).

"There's something you rarely see," crew chief Pat Tryson said of the way the afternoon qualifying session progressed. "I thought our qualifying draw was definitely not going to work out our way. But, maybe with the rain earlier that they had here and then the sun we had today, it must have been a really temperamental surface out there. We didn't check the thermometer to see how the temps varied and that'd be pretty interesting. The one thing I did notice is that the afternoon clouds didn't move in here today as usual. It would be interesting to see how much the temperatures varied from the beginning to the end of the qualifying.

"We think we have a strong Miller Lite Dodge this weekend and look forward to focusing on nothing but race trim here in the two practices tomorrow," Tryson said.

Saturday's action at MIS calls for practice from 11:00 a.m. till 11:45 a.m. (live on Speed-TV) and from 12:20 p.m. till 1:20 p.m. (live on Speed-TV). Sunday's LifeLock 400 (200 laps, 400 miles) on the 2.0-mile track in Michigan's scenic Irish Hills region is scheduled to get the green flag at approximately 2:00 p.m. Race No. 15 of 36 points-paying events on the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will feature live coverage by TNT-TV and MRN Radio.